Special issue on Designing for Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing

Call for papers:
International Journal of Human-Computer Studies
Special issue: Designing for Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing

Good mental health and emotional wellbeing are fundamental to our
quality of life, enabling people to experience life as meaningful,
handle daily stresses, work productively, and to have stable and
fulfilling relationships. Beyond this direct impact on the individual,
the World Health Organisation identifies emotional wellbeing as vital
for society as a whole. It is an essential component of peace and
stability in the living environment, contributing to social cohesion and
the economic development of society. Researchers in mental health and
emotional wellbeing are thus faced with two fundamental questions.
Firstly, what steps can be taken to maintain, strengthen and nurture
positive emotional wellbeing? Secondly, how can we provide more
effective support for people who are experiencing mental health
difficulties?

A growing body of research suggests that the HCI community – working
collaboratively with healthcare researchers – has a valuable role to
play in helping to address these challenges. For example, a number of
systems have recently been developed specifically to support mental
health interventions, including online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
interventions, therapeutic computer games, virtual and augmented reality
exposure therapies and relational agents designed to provide emotional
support. There is also rapidly growing interest in passive and
non-passive techniques to monitor emotional wellbeing and provide
information that can increase emotional awareness, support positive
behaviour and enable richer expressions of emotional states. Examples
include physiological monitoring systems and affective diaries.
Empowering and supportive relationships also play a vital role in
emotional wellbeing. This raises many intriguing questions about the
role and potential of social networking technologies, which the
community has begun to address. Researchers have also begun to consider
the differing emotional needs of distinct communities, the importance of
emotional needs in physical healthcare and wellbeing more generally, and
the design of systems that can provide ongoing support for lifelong or
chronic conditions, e.g. bipolar disorders, chronic pain.

Research on technologies to support mental health and emotional
wellbeing can draw on key themes in HCI research, including cognitive
functioning, human memory and reminiscence, social connectedness,
behaviour change, designing for reflection and affective computing.
However there is a need to provide empirical evidence as to the
effectiveness of different systems, approaches and design strategies.
This special issue will build on the CHI 2012 workshop on Interaction
Design and Emotional Wellbeing and the DIS 2012 workshop on Designing
Wellbeing. It will provide a high impact forum in which to consolidate
and extend knowledge in this rapidly evolving area. We will welcome high
quality, thought provoking and original articles that address issues
including, but not limited to:
– Empirical studies of systems designed to support mental health
interventions or emotional wellbeing.
– Empirical studies of systems that take account of the interconnected
nature of physical and emotional wellbeing.
– Studies of systems that target specific populations, e.g. children,
adolescents or older adults.
– Evidence-based, theoretical and conceptual frameworks for understanding
and guiding the design of technologies to support emotional wellbeing.
– Strategies for evaluating technologies that support emotional
wellbeing, including specific methods and tools for evaluating/measuring
emotional wellbeing.
– Considerations of ethical requirements and the potentially negative
impact of new technologies on mental health and emotional wellbeing, and
recommendations to mitigate such effects.

In keeping with the aims of the International Journal of Human Computer
Studies, the special issue will focus on papers providing concrete
research contributions with a user-centric and/or engineering element.
Review papers and papers which are purely theoretical are normally not
considered, although in rare cases exceptions can be made. If a paper
has been published elsewhere, the new version must be substantially
different (50% or more) from contributions people have sent to
conferences, journals or magazines.

Submissions to the special issue will be made through the online
submission system: http://ees.elsevier.com/ijhcs/. For further
information and questions about this special issue please contact
david.coyle@bristol.ac.uk.

Timeline for submissions/ Expected notification to authors

Submission open:   January 2013
Submission deadline:   31st March 2013
Review completion date:  June 2013 (Notification of 1st review)
Re-Submission by:  1st August 2013
Final Acceptance:   September 2013 (Notification of 2nd review)
Final Version due:  September 2013

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